Eco Black Friday 2021:

11 Tips to Shop Sustainably

Published November 2, 2021

Everyone loves a good deal! With Black Friday steadily approaching, you are probably looking forward to the enticing sales and limited time offers!

Nonetheless, don’t let the thrill of scoring a deal cloud your judgement. Getting a discount is exciting and rewarding but have you considered the impact your shopping has on the environment? How can we sustainably shop on one of the least green-friendly days of the year?

According to a report by The Green Alliance in London, up to 80% of the products purchased on Black Friday will be discarded and thrown into landfills, often after a very short period of time.

Check out some of the way you can sustainably shop on one of the least green-friendly days of the year.

  • Create a shopping list
  • Research companies
  • Limit overbuying
  • Be purposeful in gift giving
  • Skip the cart
  • Analyze the discount
  • Steer clear of freebies
  • Bring your own bag
  • Get digital receipts
  • Avoid returns
  • Choose standard shipping

1. Create a shopping list

Before heading out or searching for the latest online deals, create a shopping list of the products you need to buy. Stick to it! Ask yourself if you will use the item more than five times. If not, it probably does not belong on your list.

2. Research companies

Once you have decided which items you need, start your research early. Many companies will use greenwashing techniques to pull buyers in. Don’t be fooled by buzzwords such as “eco-friendly,” “green,” and “all natural.” Look for companies that are transparent about their sustainability efforts by reviewing the company’s mission statement and looking for proof of their claims through reports from environmental agencies.

Conscious consumer making a purchase with a credit card

To learn more about sustainability, read our article: What Is Sustainability In Fashion?.

3. Limit overbuying

Stores often use gimmicks to mark up their products. Break out the calculator to see whether you are actually saving money or if that two for the price of one deal is not as attractive as it seems. If it seems too good to be true, perhaps it is. Is this an item that you would buy if it were full price? If not, you are most likely being conned into overbuying by purchasing more than what you realistically need.

4. Be purposeful in gift giving

Think to yourself whether the person you are buying for will genuinely use the gift. Does Aunt Sally really need another scarf? Is it something they have mentioned they need? Exchange holiday lists to make sure everyone is receiving something useful.

5. Skip the cart

When you get to the store, don’t grab a shopping cart. Walk past the $5 and under aisle and head straight to the items on your list. Try to avoid browsing through other aisles. Not having a cart will make it more difficult to grab and hold unnecessary products.

6. Analyze the discount

A small business owner - woman weaving textile fibers to make clothing.

In lowering prices, companies are often sacrificing quality or fair wages for their workers. Are you saving at the expense of someone else’s livelihood? Big brands offering almost impossibly low prices are a red flag. The quality of these items will also be questionable. These discounts come at a price and the mass production leads to more products being discarded into landfills.

7. Steer clear of freebies

Spend $50; get a free candle! Sound familiar? Even when we don’t need to, we’re more likely to spend when we receive a free gift. Would you have spent that much without the reward involved? We enjoy the momentary pleasure but often discard it as soon as we get home.

8. Bring your own bag

Overbuying isn’t the only culprit in increasing your carbon footprint on Black Friday. Plastic bags are harmful in that they are often only used once before being thrown out. Stow a few reusable bags with you on your trip and refuse any additional wrapping or packaging offered.

9. Get digital receipts

Most paper receipts are not recyclable. Many receipts use a dangerous chemical called Bisphenol A (BPA) which in high doses can be absorbed into our bodies, causing negative side effects. Receipts are wasteful and when we throw them out, the BPA can end up in our soil or water supply. Ask to receive email receipts instead.

10. Avoid returns

As new safety precautions have kept many dressing rooms closed, buying and then returning has become the new norm. Be careful to make sure the item is exactly what you need before purchasing it. Inspect the item beforehand for any defects. Big brands tend to trash returns rather than putting them back on the shelves, especially if the seal is opened already.

11. Choose standard shipping

While same day delivery is appealing, oftentimes we do not actually need the item that same day. Choosing standard shipping allows companies to fully load trucks before hitting the road. Consolidate your orders to one store and one purchase to lower carbon emissions even more.

For some, Black Friday is a fun tradition. For others, the financial burden of the holidays is alleviated by the discounts. Some shoppers just want to avoid the fear of missing out. Whatever the reason may be, before shopping, consider the environmental implications and how each of us plays a role in being more sustainable consumers.

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1. Green Alliance. “Building a circular economy: How a new approach to infrastructure can put an end to waste.” Report. November 15, 2021.